Police set up checkpoints in bid to deal with 24 burglaries a day in Northern Ireland
Police checkpoints are to be mounted across Northern Ireland over the next four weeks as part of a major crackdown on burglaries.
More than 7,000 burglaries were reported to police in the past 10 months - an average of 24 a day.
Several high-profile incidents have involved the specific targeting of the elderly and vulnerable.
The proactive police operation, launched today, will also see searches carried out at "premises of interest" and the deployment of cash sniffer dogs in a bid to catch the gangs and individuals behind the increasing number of break-ins at both residential and commercial properties.
The officer heading up the operation, Superintendent Simon Walls, said that in the coming weeks, police visibility will increase in local communities and burglary hotspots will receive increased attention.
"As part of the overall operational plan, we will also be mounting checkpoints on roads to clamp down on travelling criminals. There will also be liaison with our colleagues in An Garda Siochana," Mr Walls revealed, explaining: "The main motive for most burglaries, whether of domestic or commercial premises, is taking goods which can be turned into cash.
"We will be paying attention to locations where goods may be exchanged for cash and we will be deploying sniffer dogs to search buildings and vehicles which we suspect may be used to store or transport the proceeds of crime."
The superintendent added: "Burglaries are a violation of the things people hold most dear - the possessions they've worked hard to buy and to enjoy as well as the items of sentimental value they cherish."
New police statistics show there were 7,266 burglaries at both domestic and business premises from April 1 last year to January 26. This is 2% more than the previous year.
More than 4,800 of those were at domestic dwellings.
The detection rate for burglaries - the numbers solved - is currently around 10%.
Mr Walls said that while police will be increasing their operational activity against burglars, communities should also be taking basic crime prevention steps to protect themselves.
"On many occasions, it's so frustrating for burglary victims and for police to see how easily the thieves got into their properties," he said.
"I would strongly urge anyone who has a property that they do not take its security for granted. When you leave the property, make sure all the doors and windows are locked and secure and always keep your keys safe.
"We are continually striving to increase clearance rates and we believe that our focused patrol, prevention and investigative activity over the coming weeks will help to improve these figures."
Crime prevention officers can be contacted on 101 for further advice.